Asia stocks rise on back of US consumer confidence

Rising consumer confidence and gradual US rate increase “can only be positive for Asia”

Equities in Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore all rose, lifted by data showing American consumers are more upbeat than any time since 2000. Photograph: iStock

Equities in Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore all rose, lifted by data showing American consumers are more upbeat than any time since 2000. Photograph: iStock

 

Asian stocks outside Japan built on gains for a second day as a rise in consumer confidence rekindled optimism in the strength of the US economy.

Oil rose for a second day while the dollar was steady.

Equities in Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore all rose after the S&P 500 Index posted its biggest gain in two weeks, lifted by data showing American consumers are more upbeat than any time since 2000.

Japan’s Topix index fell as more than 1,500 of its constituent companies traded without the right to their latest dividend. Crude extended its gain above 48 a barrel. The dollar held Tuesday’s advance while gold fell.

Global stocks are on course for a fifth straight month of gains, with the MSCI All-Country World Index trading within a whisker of its all-time high reached earlier this month. That’s happening even as some reflation trades were rattled in March, while Federal Reserve officials reiterated that two more interest-rate increases in 2017 seem appropriate. A Bloomberg gauge of the dollar remains 3.7 per cent lower this year.

“Rising consumer confidence and a gradual rate increase in the US can only be positive for Asia, ” said Andrew Inovero, assistant vice president for trust and investment at Malayan Bank.

“There’s good correlation between what happens in the US and Asia and it’s not only fund flows.”

Currencies

The yen traded at 111.22 per dollar, down 0.1 per cent in Tokyo, after dropping 0.4 per cent on Tuesday.

The Aussie gained for a second day, rising 0.2 per cent to 76.46 US cents.

The British pound slipped 0.3 per cent to $1.2414 as investors brace for the start of the two-year negotiation for the UK to leave the European Union.

Stocks

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index rose 0.2 per cent, after climbing 0.8 per cent on Tuesday.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.9 per cent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.6 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 per cent while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index advanced 0.5 per cent. Jakarta’s benchmark jumped 0.7 per cent.

- Bloomberg